Public transport in Bulgaria.
What kind of public transport is popular in Bulgaria?
Popular public transport in Bulgaria.
In Bulgaria, a network of public transport is widely developed – trains, buses, minibuses. To explore the country most fully, you can rent a car.
City buses are usually crowded, and in the summer they are very stuffy. Private minibuses travel in some cities, for example, in Sofia, but it is more convenient to use a taxi. The availability of tickets from passengers is almost always checked by conductors, especially in Sofia. For each piece of luggage, you need to buy a separate ticket (for example, for a suitcase or bag). In large cities there is a network of trams and trolleybuses, and in Sofia there is also a metro.
Catching a ride is not safe, so we do not have the right to recommend this type of movement. Travelers should be aware of the risk that they take on themselves. It’s safer to travel in pairs, knowing exactly where you want to go.
Hitchhiking is officially banned in Bulgaria, but some of them are still engaged. This is especially common in rural areas, where public transport is not frequent. The recent surge in crime rates has discouraged many Bulgarians from driving random passengers.
Buses and trams.
Buses connect all the cities and villages. In some places the bus service is subordinated to the government. These buses are old, uncomfortable and slow compared to city buses. New, spacious buses operate mainly in large cities, and travel to them is higher than on dilapidated vehicles.
Also in Bulgaria there are numerous private companies. The largest of them are Etap-Grup (02-945 3939; www.etapgroup.com) and Biomet (02-963 1366; www.biomet-bg.com). Offices are located in Sofia.
At the stations you can see the schedule (it is written in Cyrillic). On all buses are written stops of terminal stations.
A bus ticket is usually bought at the station. It will indicate your place, time of departure and the number of the platform on which you are landing. In some cases, the cashier will tell you that the ticket should be bought directly on the bus.
The fare on the Bulgarian bus is relatively inexpensive by Western standards. A ticket from Sofia to Varna or to Burgas costs 20-26 levs, and from Sofia to Sandanski (far to the south) – only 8 levs.
Cars and motorcycles.
The best way to travel in Bulgaria, especially if you consider visiting remote villages, monasteries and national parks, is on a rented car or motorcycle. If you are going to walk for a long time in large cities, leaving the car in a parking lot for a few days, then in this case it does not make any sense to take her for rent.
At petrol stations in Bulgaria, 95, 98 gasoline, as well as diesel fuel and LPG are provided. Local drivers prefer to buy gasoline brands Shell and OMV.
Refueling is at a distance of about 15-20 km from each other along the roads, they work mostly from 5:00 to 22:00. Refueling in large cities are open around the clock.
To rent a car, you must be more than 21 years old, and you must have a driving license with at least 1 year experience. There are rental points all over Bulgaria, but the biggest choice is in Sofia. The cost is from 30 euros per day. In international companies, Avis and Hertz, for example, prices are higher. All major credit cards are accepted for payment.
The most reliable car rental agencies:
Hertz (02-945 9217; [email protected])
Motorcycle rental is presented in less quantity than automobile. The best place is Motoroads (08-8537 0298; www.motoroads.com; office 1, bl 279, Mladost 2, Sofia 1799). Here is a wide selection of motorcycles. The cost of rent is from 40 euros per day, plus a deposit of 300 euros.
Liability insurance is compulsory. Can issue CASCO in your country, but make sure that it operates in Bulgaria). Green (or Blue) Card is also active in Bulgaria.
The railway company Balgarski Darzhavni Zheleznitsi (BDZh; 02-931 1111, www.bdz.bg) boasts 4,278 km of roads throughout the country that connect all major cities and towns. In addition to such routes as Sofia – Kyustendil and Sofia – Plovdiv, the trains are moving intermittently, and they themselves are quite shabby and old. Buses run more often and faster, but the train wins more space in the compartment and beautiful scenery outside the window.
Trains are divided into ekspresen (express), barz (fast) and patnichesk (slow passenger).
The most spectacular trips are through the Iskar Gorge, from Sofia to Mezdra, and along the narrow-gauge road between Septemvri and Bansko. Often tourists go on these routes for the sake of the kinds opening from a window, and at all because of destinations. Railway communication in Bulgaria is a safe and pleasant mode of transportation. On border routes, for example, with Turkey or with Serbia, there are cases of robbery and drunkenness. If you have a long journey, taking a night, then book a place in a sleeping car.
The first class coupe is designed for six people, the second class – for eight, and in intercity expresses there are individual seats. Tariffs of the first class are 25% higher than the second class. The cars are not too different, but the first class is still roomier.
In recent years, prices have risen, but tickets for Bulgarian trains are still cheaper than in the rest of Europe. A trip from Sofia to Varna by the second class will cost 22 levs, first class – 27 levs. For a trip by a group (3 people or more) you can get a small discount.
Booking.
Tickets for buses are rarely booked, this option is more likely to private routes. At the peak of the tourist season, you should book tickets for trains running between Sofia and Varna. Tickets for buses should be ordered a few hours before the proposed departure. As a rule, usually, if you arrive at the station half an hour before boarding, you can not fail to get a ticket. Sometimes you should take care of tickets in advance, especially if you plan to go by train in the summer to the Black Sea. You can buy a ticket in special vending machines at the train stations and in Rila Bureaux. The staff of Rila Bureaux speak English well, they will help you navigate the routes, prices and train tickets.
A lot of travel agencies offer the most interesting tours in Bulgaria – from popular bus excursions to Rila Monastery, for example, to individual itineraries.
If you have little time, you better choose an organized group tour. Agencies in the resorts of Albena, Sunny Beach and Golden Sand form profitable tours that will help you avoid unnecessary expenses.
List of the most popular travel agencies in Bulgaria:
Motoroads (0885370298; www.motoroads.com, office 1, bl 279, Mladost 2, Sofia 1799). A wide selection of group trips on a motorcycle in the country.
Neophron (052-650 230, www.neophron.com, PO Box 492, Varna) Tours for lovers of wildlife. Observations of birds on the coast and in the mountains. Excursions are conducted by professional ornithologists.
Odysseia-In Travel Agency (02-989 0538; www.odysseia-in.com; 1st fl, bul Stamboliyski 20-V, Sofia) Snowshoeing and hiking, caving, bird watching and other themed tours around the country. Through this company you can book rooms in more than 100 mountain huts and rural houses.
Zig Zag Holidays (02-980 5102; www.zigzagbg.com; bul Stamboliyski 20-V, Sofia). Ecological tours and organization of individual events, including rock climbing, speleology and trips to nature.
Minibuses.
Private and public minibuses run between small villages, for example, along the Black Sea coast, as well as between ski resorts in winter. The price for a minibus ticket is equal to the price for an ordinary bus, but these tickets are bought more often immediately by the driver. If you have a choice on which bus to go, but choose a minibus – it is more comfortable, and standing trips are not allowed. Departure dates and routes are indicated on the windshield.
In Sofia minibuses are called shuttles. They travel from the city center to the suburbs.
Air Transport.
Bulgaria is a small country, most people travel by bus and train. But since an 8-hour bus ride from Sofia to the Black Sea can not all arrange, there is an option – to fly by plane.
The company Bulgaria Air manages two internal routes: Sofia – Varna and Sofia – Burgas.
Bicycles.
Riding a bike in Bulgaria is not very safe. Often there are accidents with cyclists on the roads of Sofia, characterized by intense traffic. Many expensive Bulgaria are not in the best condition, on some of them bicyclists are forbidden to ride.
You can transport a bicycle on a bus or train for an additional fee – about 2 levs. “Two-wheeled friends” are more popular at the Black Sea resorts. There you can find many rental offices. Spare parts for bicycles can be found only in large cities, so take your spare with you. In rural areas, you should ride mountain bikes. Specially for bicyclists there are developed itineraries.